Healthy ways to deal with stress
Long workdays. Hectic schedules. Busy family life. Even if you're living a healthy lifestyle, you still have a lot on your plate. And while you can't control what life throws your way, you can control what you do about it.
If you turn to food for comfort when life gets stressful, you're not alone. The good news is that there are lots of healthy ways to cope with stress that won't derail your weight loss journey.
The pitfalls of stress on a healthy lifestyle.
Emotional eating, or turning to unhealthy comfort foods as a way to deal with stressful situations, is one of the most common pitfalls when on a weight loss journey. Eating chocolate after a tough day at work or an entire bag of chips simply out of boredom can make you feel better in the short term. However, stress eating can do more harm than good in the long run.
What you can do about stressful situations that cause emotional eating
While we cannot avoid all stressful situations, we can learn to process them in healthier ways. Reframing the meaning you give to a situation is a great way to take back control.
Triggers cause an emotional response to circumstances you find uncomfortable or upsetting and can often lead to emotional eating. Learning to identify triggers that cause you to make poor food choices can help you process uncomfortable events and emotions in healthier ways.
When you feel triggered by stress and tempted to binge on unhealthy foods, try one or more of these coping mechanisms to help reset your mind and make a healthier food decision:
- Breathe! Deep breathing can help reduce stress and spike energy.
- Count to 10, or 100 if you need to, before reacting.
- Drink water or a hot cup of tea.
- Call someone for support.
- Take a quick walk, even up or down stairs — anything to get blood flowing!
8 healthy ways to avoid everyday stress
When you learn to cope with stress in healthier ways, other areas of your life can start to fall into place. You may feel more relaxed, your breathing can improve, and can even have a better overall outlook on life.
Here are 8 things you can do to limit unhealthy stress in your life:
1. Spend time alone
It's important to practice self-care and do something just for you. Read a book, get a massage, see a movie – whatever you enjoy.
2. Sit quietly
Spend a few minutes each day without your phone or computer.
3. Avoid stressful triggers
Although avoiding all stressors is impossible, try to avoid the areas that trigger emotions leading to increased stress.
4. Get enough sleep
Create a relaxing bedtime ritual so you can get quality sleep.
5. Focus on what you can control
Whether you wake up earlier or commit to a gym class, focusing on the areas you can control will empower you to stick to your goals.
6. Stay active
Try to get out for a brisk walk each day or engage in other physical activities to alleviate stress. In addition to feeling better, your body will start to tone up and get stronger.
7. Choose to see the good
Many things today are negative and cause increased stress and worry. Try not to let the news, a bad day at work, or a traffic jam ruin your positive attitude.
8. Remove tempting food
This one may seem obvious, but if you get rid of or donate any unhealthy food you turn to when you're feeling stressed, then you'll automatically look to something else to help you cope with stressful situations.
Remember to go easy on yourself
If you have an episode of emotional eating, just make sure your next meal is back on plan. Try to learn from the experience and make a plan for how you can prevent it in the future.
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